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Village Academy offers a wide array of services to meet the needs of our students. Core Curriculum consists of instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Content is aimed at addressing current Virginia Department of Education’s Standards of Learning and utilizes their Scope and Sequence and Curriculum Framework as a guide. Village Academy utilizes bench-marking scores to identify those students who may require additional small group or one-to-one support to make educational gains. Remediation services are offered by our reading specialists, reading buddies, math specialist and volunteers from within our community.

Related services offered at Village Academy encompass therapeutic areas that are determined appropriate as part of their program, these include: individual and group counseling, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy. Village Academy utilizes testing and evaluation materials that are not racially or culturally discriminatory. Current assessments utilized by Village Academy includes (but is not all inclusive) Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (Benchmarking k-3), Qualitative Reading Inventory (Benchmarking 3-8), Star Math Enterprise, and Star Reading Enterprise. Assessments provided by the State (SOLS will be given during the testing dates assigned by the LEA but conducted on grounds by trained Village Academy representatives). Student’s accommodations and modifications will be followed per their IEP. Group Students all participate in daily specials activities consisting of one of the following per day: Library, Equine Program, Art Group, Music Group, and Nature/Agricultural activities.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy is effective in helping troubled youth become aware of how they learn, react and follow instructions. Many of the benefits of equine therapy are: building confidence, self-efficacy, self-concept, communication, trust; as well as perspective, decreased isolation, self-acceptance, impulse control, social skills, and boundaries. Horses are typically non-judgmental, have no preconceived expectations or motives, and are highly effective at mirroring attitudes and behaviors of the humans with whom they are working.

While working with horses under the guidance and supervision of an equine therapist, the children have a unique and effective opportunity to note their tendency to engage in self-defeating and otherwise negative thoughts and actions. These realizations provide excellent bases for discussion and processing both during and after the equine therapy experience. Safety is the number one priority for all participants in equine therapy.

Equine Therapy usually includes instruction in horse care, grooming procedures, saddlery, and basic equitation. Horses are the most popularly used animal for therapy because horses have the ability to respond immediately and give feedback to the child’s action and/or behavior. Horses are also able to mirror the child’s emotion. The basis of the therapy is that because horses behave similarly like human beings do in their social and responsive behavior; it is easier for children to establish connections with the horse.

*For more information contact Barry Jacobs | Equine Therapist

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by an art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.

Art therapy is widely practiced in a variety of settings including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, forensic institutions, schools, crisis centers, senior communities, private practice, and other clinical and community settings. During individual and/or group sessions art therapists elicit their clients’ inherent capacity for art making to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Research supports the use of art therapy within a professional relationship for the therapeutic benefits gained through artistic self-expression and reflection for individuals who experience illness, trauma, and mental health problems and those seeking personal growth.

Art therapy practice requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques. A master’s degree is required for entry level practice in art therapy from institutions of higher education recognized by regional accreditation bodies approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Educational requirements include theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family art therapy techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and internship experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings.

At the Alice C. Tyler Village every child is exposed to art therapy. Through creative art media the children are provided opportunities for the resolution of trauma through artistic self expression in order to assist in the stabilization and resolution of presenting psychiatric symptoms.

*For more information contact Sherice Greene | Art Therapist

Music Therapy

“Music therapy is an established healthcare profession in which music is used in a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals,” American Music Therapy Association. Music interventions are used at Childhelp to facilitate emotional awareness, frustration tolerance, self reflection, stress reduction, increases in self-esteem and self-confidence and to practice positive social interaction. The children participate in group music therapy where they improvise music on instruments, get therapeutic music lessons on various musical instruments write songs listen to and move to music. They can also receive individual music therapy to address and reinforce treatment goals. Music therapy sessions are designed to be fun and success oriented to allow the children the opportunity for self-reflection through musical activity.


A big part of healing from any trauma is being grounded in life that has meaning and gives hope and the ability to recognize and experience beauty. There are three basic involvements that we use to address spiritual needs of the children at the Village.

Religion is an important part of many of the children’s lives. The religious experiences they have at the Village are meant to be a bridge from what they were experiencing before they came to the Village to what they might experience after they leave. We address the spiritual needs of the children here at the Village by giving them the opportunity to stay connected to religious practices that are important to them. We offer religious ceremonies and services, provide religious texts and offer spiritual support as requested and as it appropriate.

Children arrive at the Village during some of the darkest days of their lives. Connecting them to a source of hope is another key element of the spiritual program at the Village. One way in which we attempt to do that is to give the children opportunities to care for other living things. There are many animals that are part of the Village environment including goats, sheep, chickens, cats, dogs and horses. We are also blessed with a multitude of wild animals both big and small. The children are encouraged and coached to interact with the animals in a caring way. Plants are also used. We have several gardens which the children help to tend as well as miles of natural hiking trails. Being open to beauty in the world requires using your senses. Each child participates in a nature immersion group each week in which they are taught and encouraged how to better utilize their senses and to appreciate the world around them. The children are encouraged to hone their senses and notice the natural world. “Noticing” or  ”Focus” activities are provided to encourage the children’s ability to focus their attention and to learn new ways to sooth themselves when agitated. We also give the children as many opportunities as possible to just be children, dig in the soil and get dirty.

And then there is music. Music can be calming and music is encouraged often in the Village whether informally such as a staff member singing with a group walking through a transition between activities or trying to help a child go to sleep at night. We also have a few more formal ways that the children can encounter music such as talent shows, occasional guest concerts and this choir. Music can be a powerful tool. The children who choose to participate in this choir practice each week for an hour and help lead the chapel service each Sunday.

*For more information contact David Henry | Chaplain

Occupational Therapy

The Occupational Therapy program promotes development of fine motor, visual motor, coordination, cognitive, and sensory processing skills that our children need to achieve independence in order to successfully function, learn, and socialize in their home, school, and community environments. Therapy is provided in the OT gym, Sensory Resource Room, classroom, and/or cottage as needed in order for the children to reach their goals.

*For more information contact Jessica Shipman | OTR/L Occupational Therapist